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Hard Times closing - 05-28-2020, 07:23 PM

Nicely written obituary for Hard Times

Over 30 years of glorious billiard history has come to an end. Hard Times Billiards was southern California's hardcore pool players headquarters. No other pool-hall came close to the history and true pure love of billiards. They had no alcohol, no fancy sports TVs. What did they have? They had hardcore tables. Snooker tables, Heated Carom Tables, and 25 tough gold-crown 9-foot tables, and ten of them set impossibly tight for the best players in the world to compete on, complete with arena seating. That's right; one went there to see the best players, like in any other major sports arena.

Hard times was voted the Best pool room in America by Billiards Digest in 1996. New York had Amsterdam Billiards, California, had Hard-times. First opened by the Markulis family and subsequently sold to the Thomason family. Then lastly, to Edie. Hard Times served pocket-billiards for several generations. The best players came here not only from Los Angeles, not only from the state, no, they came from all over the world. Where else is this to happen?

Every day up and coming players would come from all over, to lose to the best in tournaments, or to play in ridiculously high-stake money games. Hard-times was a pro player's top college. This pro-college turned out future billiard stars and billiard pros like Oscar Domingues, who now owns and runs the sister Hard Times, Sacramento, now the last temple of billiards left in California. New York gave us the Jeanette Lee, and Hard Times gave us Mary Avina. POV pool media was also was born at Hard-times. A temple of pool gave us an endless list of other great and notable, but lesser-known players such as; Andy Chen, Box Patterson, Jay Helfert, Jun Almoite, Jenny Lee, Dave Hemmah, Melissa Herndon, Brook Thomason, Ken Thomason, Jerry Matchin, Robin Bell Dodson, Wayne Pullen, Frank Almanza, Chris Robinson, Ruben Bautista, Sal Butera, James Woods, Butch Barba, Mark Barba, Catfish, and Hawaiian Jimmy all that become somebodies the tough way, getting their ass kicked. Wagering big and small, no participation trophies here. You win, you lose, get over it. Where are the kid and teenager future pros players going to go? Where is there another monthly tournament drawing over 90 players plus? One that had been doing so for over 30 years. Huge yearly purse tournaments that attracted the best players from all over the world year in year out. Where else?

The tournaments were, though, local champions when to Hard-Times to lose. Why because being the best in one town or county or even a state was not good enough, not special. For the big tournaments, you had to beat Efren Reyes, Francisco Bustamante, Keith Mccready, Nick Varner, Mike Seigel, Mika Immonen, Alex Pagulayan, Earl Strickland, Buddy Hall, Dennis Orcollo, and Shane Van Boening. In other words, the best in the world. Even the weekly tournament would draw 4 to 5 pros or more on average. For close to no money, you had to beat the likes of Ernesto Domingez, Morro Paez, Bernando 'King Kong' and Jose Parica. Where else can you upstairs and have your cue worked on or made by 'Little AL'?

These are sad times for billiards, Hard-times was a magical place for the hardcore billiard player, and I'm angry. Maybe I'm a dinosaur of times past. I don't love easy tiny tables, and I love playing for money. Still, it feels like little by little, the heart of American billiards is being replaced by easy, small tables and handicapped league systems. Finding a money game is harder and harder. I don't dislike leagues but to me. To me, pool should not be easy or safe. I like my pool serious, and we just lost another temple of pool. To quote the great Barbara Lee, "Pool is not dead" Yes, your right Barbara, pool is not dead, but you know what? We are down, and it hurts. It really does hurt.

http://www.thebilliardnews.com

I don't care what anybody says, league pool is destroying the essence of what pool should be. As stated above pool shouldn't be easy or safe... If it is you are doing it wrong.
  
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05-28-2020, 07:32 PM

Thanks for the official link. Sadly, this is an extremely ominous signal to those who are thinking about opening a pool hall.
  
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05-28-2020, 07:38 PM

I'm still open... Well in 4 weeks when punk ass Govenor Cuomo says we can.
  
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05-28-2020, 07:45 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by SBC View Post
Nicely written obituary for Hard Times

Over 30 years of glorious billiard history has come to an end. Hard Times Billiards was southern California's hardcore pool players headquarters. No other pool-hall came close to the history and true pure love of billiards. They had no alcohol, no fancy sports TVs. What did they have? They had hardcore tables. Snooker tables, Heated Carom Tables, and 25 tough gold-crown 9-foot tables, and ten of them set impossibly tight for the best players in the world to compete on, complete with arena seating. That's right; one went there to see the best players, like in any other major sports arena.

Hard times was voted the Best pool room in America by Billiards Digest in 1996. New York had Amsterdam Billiards, California, had Hard-times. First opened by the Markulis family and subsequently sold to the Thomason family. Then lastly, to Edie. Hard Times served pocket-billiards for several generations. The best players came here not only from Los Angeles, not only from the state, no, they came from all over the world. Where else is this to happen?

Every day up and coming players would come from all over, to lose to the best in tournaments, or to play in ridiculously high-stake money games. Hard-times was a pro player's top college. This pro-college turned out future billiard stars and billiard pros like Oscar Domingues, who now owns and runs the sister Hard Times, Sacramento, now the last temple of billiards left in California. New York gave us the Jeanette Lee, and Hard Times gave us Mary Avina. POV pool media was also was born at Hard-times. A temple of pool gave us an endless list of other great and notable, but lesser-known players such as; Andy Chen, Box Patterson, Jay Helfert, Jun Almoite, Jenny Lee, Dave Hemmah, Melissa Herndon, Brook Thomason, Ken Thomason, Jerry Matchin, Robin Bell Dodson, Wayne Pullen, Frank Almanza, Chris Robinson, Ruben Bautista, Sal Butera, James Woods, Butch Barba, Mark Barba, Catfish, and Hawaiian Jimmy all that become somebodies the tough way, getting their ass kicked. Wagering big and small, no participation trophies here. You win, you lose, get over it. Where are the kid and teenager future pros players going to go? Where is there another monthly tournament drawing over 90 players plus? One that had been doing so for over 30 years. Huge yearly purse tournaments that attracted the best players from all over the world year in year out. Where else?

The tournaments were, though, local champions when to Hard-Times to lose. Why because being the best in one town or county or even a state was not good enough, not special. For the big tournaments, you had to beat Efren Reyes, Francisco Bustamante, Keith Mccready, Nick Varner, Mike Seigel, Mika Immonen, Alex Pagulayan, Earl Strickland, Buddy Hall, Dennis Orcollo, and Shane Van Boening. In other words, the best in the world. Even the weekly tournament would draw 4 to 5 pros or more on average. For close to no money, you had to beat the likes of Ernesto Domingez, Morro Paez, Bernando 'King Kong' and Jose Parica. Where else can you upstairs and have your cue worked on or made by 'Little AL'?

These are sad times for billiards, Hard-times was a magical place for the hardcore billiard player, and I'm angry. Maybe I'm a dinosaur of times past. I don't love easy tiny tables, and I love playing for money. Still, it feels like little by little, the heart of American billiards is being replaced by easy, small tables and handicapped league systems. Finding a money game is harder and harder. I don't dislike leagues but to me. To me, pool should not be easy or safe. I like my pool serious, and we just lost another temple of pool. To quote the great Barbara Lee, "Pool is not dead" Yes, your right Barbara, pool is not dead, but you know what? We are down, and it hurts. It really does hurt.

http://www.thebilliardnews.com

I don't care what anybody says, league pool is destroying the essence of what pool should be. As stated above pool shouldn't be easy or safe... If it is you are doing it wrong.


Interesting read, and history lesson. Thanks for the effort.


“Pool is geometry, in its most challenging form, the science of precise angles, and forces" - Quote from: A Game of Pool, The Twilight Zone 1961 Television Show.
  
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05-28-2020, 07:46 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by SBC View Post
Nicely written obituary for Hard Times

Over 30 years of glorious billiard history has come to an end. Hard Times Billiards was southern California's hardcore pool players headquarters. No other pool-hall came close to the history and true pure love of billiards. They had no alcohol, no fancy sports TVs. What did they have? They had hardcore tables. Snooker tables, Heated Carom Tables, and 25 tough gold-crown 9-foot tables, and ten of them set impossibly tight for the best players in the world to compete on, complete with arena seating. That's right; one went there to see the best players, like in any other major sports arena.

Hard times was voted the Best pool room in America by Billiards Digest in 1996. New York had Amsterdam Billiards, California, had Hard-times. First opened by the Markulis family and subsequently sold to the Thomason family. Then lastly, to Edie. Hard Times served pocket-billiards for several generations. The best players came here not only from Los Angeles, not only from the state, no, they came from all over the world. Where else is this to happen?

Every day up and coming players would come from all over, to lose to the best in tournaments, or to play in ridiculously high-stake money games. Hard-times was a pro player's top college. This pro-college turned out future billiard stars and billiard pros like Oscar Domingues, who now owns and runs the sister Hard Times, Sacramento, now the last temple of billiards left in California. New York gave us the Jeanette Lee, and Hard Times gave us Mary Avina. POV pool media was also was born at Hard-times. A temple of pool gave us an endless list of other great and notable, but lesser-known players such as; Andy Chen, Box Patterson, Jay Helfert, Jun Almoite, Jenny Lee, Dave Hemmah, Melissa Herndon, Brook Thomason, Ken Thomason, Jerry Matchin, Robin Bell Dodson, Wayne Pullen, Frank Almanza, Chris Robinson, Ruben Bautista, Sal Butera, James Woods, Butch Barba, Mark Barba, Catfish, and Hawaiian Jimmy all that become somebodies the tough way, getting their ass kicked. Wagering big and small, no participation trophies here. You win, you lose, get over it. Where are the kid and teenager future pros players going to go? Where is there another monthly tournament drawing over 90 players plus? One that had been doing so for over 30 years. Huge yearly purse tournaments that attracted the best players from all over the world year in year out. Where else?

The tournaments were, though, local champions when to Hard-Times to lose. Why because being the best in one town or county or even a state was not good enough, not special. For the big tournaments, you had to beat Efren Reyes, Francisco Bustamante, Keith Mccready, Nick Varner, Mike Seigel, Mika Immonen, Alex Pagulayan, Earl Strickland, Buddy Hall, Dennis Orcollo, and Shane Van Boening. In other words, the best in the world. Even the weekly tournament would draw 4 to 5 pros or more on average. For close to no money, you had to beat the likes of Ernesto Domingez, Morro Paez, Bernando 'King Kong' and Jose Parica. Where else can you upstairs and have your cue worked on or made by 'Little AL'?

These are sad times for billiards, Hard-times was a magical place for the hardcore billiard player, and I'm angry. Maybe I'm a dinosaur of times past. I don't love easy tiny tables, and I love playing for money. Still, it feels like little by little, the heart of American billiards is being replaced by easy, small tables and handicapped league systems. Finding a money game is harder and harder. I don't dislike leagues but to me. To me, pool should not be easy or safe. I like my pool serious, and we just lost another temple of pool. To quote the great Barbara Lee, "Pool is not dead" Yes, your right Barbara, pool is not dead, but you know what? We are down, and it hurts. It really does hurt.

http://www.thebilliardnews.com

I don't care what anybody says, league pool is destroying the essence of what pool should be. As stated above pool shouldn't be easy or safe... If it is you are doing it wrong.
HT's has been on life-support for quite a while. Hate to see it go but its really not a surprise.
  
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05-28-2020, 10:43 PM

Hate to be like a vulture...but will they be selling their lights above the tables in the pit? I would love to have one of them above my table in my house.
  
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05-29-2020, 12:36 AM

Start digging the graves because other parlors are going to suffer this same fate.

When 1 out of 4 people have applied for unemployment, which is identical to the
Great Depression (24.9% unemployment), pool halls are going to challenged to
remain profitable. Let’s not kid ourselves and fact is there’s going to be less of them.
They may get to open but how many will even make it into 2021? The future is bleak.


"My Pool Cues"

*Bob Owen Custom- Level 8 (s/d 4-24-16) - Flat Ivory Joint
*J. Rauenzahn Custom - Level 6 (s/d 5-4-16) - Flat Ivory Joint

*J. Rauenzahn Custom - Level 8 (s/d 2-23-15) - Flat Ivory Joint
*Ed Prewitt Custom '05 - Level 8 - Flat Ivory Joint
*Bob Owen Custom - Level 8 (s/d 5-4-14) - Flat Ivory Joint
*Tim Scruggs Custom (05-95) Level 7 - Flat Ivory Joint
*Runde Schon (03-85) Custom "R" Series (1 of 1)
*Palmer (Original) - '72 (All Cocobolo Wood)
  
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05-29-2020, 01:21 PM

Sad to hear. HT is one of the very few pool halls I have visited in the USA. About 10 or 12 years ago when last at Disney Land with the ex and family I took an afternoon to drive the 20 minutes (iirc) from where we were staying in Anaheim to Bellflower to play in the famous establishment .... I was not disappointed.

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05-29-2020, 02:01 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by SBC View Post

I don't care what anybody says, league pool is destroying the essence of what pool should be. As stated above pool shouldn't be easy or safe... If it is you are doing it wrong.
It's fun and having fun is right.

The writer already said that place is for hardcore serious players so blame those hardcore serious players for not coming. Pool is suppose to be fun and if you have a hardcore room like HT with tight ass pockets then who would want to go back and play? The best kind of customers are those that pay, stay and play.

It's sad it closed down but it's a sign of the times. You adapt to new changing tastes and demand. If you don't want to adapt and keep it the same for nostalgia then your customers will move on leaving you behind.
  
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05-29-2020, 02:38 PM

Call me crazy but with all the unenjoyment and government assistance, Pool halls should thrive.


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05-29-2020, 03:07 PM

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Call me crazy but with all the unenjoyment and government assistance, Pool halls should thrive.
If you're not allowed to be inside a pool hall it becomes much harder to get a game... The owner still has to keep the lights and electricity on, and pay the rent without any customers though. It's tough all over.

It will be even worse if they open too early and end up getting locked down again because round 2 will be even longer.

On the actual subject, I looked at HT Bellflower on Google Earth. The awnings were in pretty sad looking shape. Assuming the inside was starting to deteriorate as well, the writing may have been on wall for quite some time. I can't say for sure as I wasn't there.
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05-29-2020, 03:17 PM

it's been closing for a couple of years.


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05-29-2020, 03:20 PM

Ghosst, you could have, and I’m not suggesting you did, misinterpreted the appearance of the awnings.

After all, it is California & maybe the owners were going for that “torn jeans” effect to draw a younger crowd.

If they were, it looks like it didn’t work. If they weren’t, the rundown condition reveals a lot as you suspected.


"My Pool Cues"

*Bob Owen Custom- Level 8 (s/d 4-24-16) - Flat Ivory Joint
*J. Rauenzahn Custom - Level 6 (s/d 5-4-16) - Flat Ivory Joint

*J. Rauenzahn Custom - Level 8 (s/d 2-23-15) - Flat Ivory Joint
*Ed Prewitt Custom '05 - Level 8 - Flat Ivory Joint
*Bob Owen Custom - Level 8 (s/d 5-4-14) - Flat Ivory Joint
*Tim Scruggs Custom (05-95) Level 7 - Flat Ivory Joint
*Runde Schon (03-85) Custom "R" Series (1 of 1)
*Palmer (Original) - '72 (All Cocobolo Wood)
  
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05-29-2020, 03:24 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bavafongoul View Post
Ghosst, you could have, and I’m not suggesting you did, misinterpreted the appearance of the awnings.

After all, it is California & maybe the owners were going for that “torn jeans” effect to draw a younger crowd.

If they were, it looks like it didn’t work. If they weren’t, the rundown condition reveals a lot as you suspected.
I haven't been there in about a year, but it was somewhat run down.

They took a long time to re-cover the tables and of course everybody knows the complaints about the lack of air conditioning.

However, I enjoyed the Sunday tournaments I played in there. I was never what anybody would call a "regular", but I found most of the guys there to be quite friendly. Hopefully, Dave Hemmah finds another job as a house pro. He was very friendly the times I interacted with him.
  
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05-29-2020, 03:59 PM

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Originally Posted by westcoast View Post
I haven't been there in about a year, but it was somewhat run down.

They took a long time to re-cover the tables and of course everybody knows the complaints about the lack of air conditioning.

However, I enjoyed the Sunday tournaments I played in there. I was never what anybody would call a "regular", but I found most of the guys there to be quite friendly. Hopefully, Dave Hemmah finds another job as a house pro. He was very friendly the times I interacted with him.
Is Lil Al still upstairs or his Son?


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